California is long overdue for an earthquake with a magnitude larger than 7 but one will come soon, says a university professor.
CALIFORNIA — California is long overdue for an earthquake with a magnitude larger than 7 but one will come soon, said a Colorado State University professor. Richard Aster, a professor of geophysics, wrote this week that the state has been in an “earthquake drought” for years with the last earthquake greater than a magnitude of 7.0 happening in 1906 in San Francisco.
The so-called drought is more serious than most people realize, Aster wrote for TheConversation.com.
“The earthquake situation in California is actually more dire than people who aren’t seismologists like myself may realize,” Aster wrote. “Multiple segments of the expansive San Andreas Fault system are now sufficiently stressed to produce large and damaging events.”
Aster explained that the San Francisco earthquake, which killed roughly 3,000 people, was the last shake that was more than 7 in magnitude. The result is that “strands of the fault system accumulate stresses that correspond to a seismic slip of millimeters to centimeters.”
“Eventually, these stresses will be released suddenly in earthquakes,” Aster wrote. “Reflecting this deficit, theestimates that there is a 93 percent probability of a 7.0 or larger earthquake occurring in the Golden State region by 2045, with the highest probabilities occurring along the San Andreas Fault system.”
Thankfully, California’s government has made headway in improving infrastructure and planning. Those efforts will be tested when the big one hits, Aster wrote.
“As California prepares for large earthquakes after a hiatus of more than a century, the clock is ticking,” Aster wrote.
Here are earthquake preparedness tips from the American Red Cross:
- Become aware of fire evacuation and earthquake safety plans for all of the buildings you occupy regularly.
- Pick safe places in each room of your home, workplace and/or school. A safe place could be under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.
- Practice “drop, cover and hold on” in each safe place. If you do not have sturdy furniture to hold on to, sit on the floor next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
- Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person’s bed in case the earthquake strikes in the middle of the night.
- Make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation.
- Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs.
- Bolt bookcases, china cabinets and other tall furniture to wall studs.
- Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit.
- Brace overhead light fixtures.
- Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets. Large or heavy items should be closest to the floor.
- Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
- Learn about your area’s seismic building standards and land use codes before you begin new construction. Keep and maintain an emergency supplies kit in an easy-to-access location.